News & Brews May 19, 2021

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Votes still being counted

With votes still being tallied, the fate of two proposed constitutional amendments to rein in a governor’s emergency powers has not yet been declared. As of early this morning, “yes” votes led by about 140,000 votes on each measure, out of more than 1.9 million votes counted thus far. Meanwhile, voters approved a third constitutional amendment that would ban discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity.

And the judicial nominees are… (or might be…)

Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson won a three-way primary to secure the Republican nomination for state Supreme Court. He will face Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin, who ran unopposed in the Democrat primary. In the Democrat primary for Superior Court, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Timika Lane is currently leading, but that race has not yet been called. Whoever wins that primary will face Republican Megan Sullivan, who ran unopposed. And finally, in the Democrat primary contest for Commonwealth Court, where candidates will vie for two seats in November, the four-way race also remains too close to call. The winners of that primary will face Republicans Stacy Wallace and Judge Drew Crompton.

Special legislative elections go 3-1 GOP

Republicans won three of the four special legislative elections yesterday. In House District 59 (Somerset and Westmoreland counties), Republican Leslie Baum Rossi defeatedDemocrat Mariah Fisher and Libertarian Robb Luther. In House District 60 (Armstrong, Butler, and Indiana counties) Republican Abby Major cruised to victory in a three-way race. In Senate District 48 (Lebanon, York, and Dauphin counties), Republican Chris Gebhard won a four-way race. And in Senate District 22 (Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Monroe counties), Democrat state Rep. Marty Flynn bested Republican Chris Chermak.

Dem primaries in Philly, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg make headlines

Incumbent Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner won a highly-watched Democratic primary against Carlos Vega. The primary was largely seen as a referendum on whether Krasner is to blame for the city’s rising violence. Across the state, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto conceded to state Rep. Ed Gainey in a four-way Democrat primary for mayor. And in Harrisburg, City Council President Wanda Williams won the Democrat primary for mayor, defeating incumbent Mayor Eric Papenfuse and three other candidates.

Some counties run out of ballots

Yesterday’s primary election wasn’t without its glitches. Polling places in several counties ran out of ballots. Voters were still able to vote using alternative means. Meanwhile, in Lancaster County, a printing error that affected about 14,000 ballots means these ballots will need to be counted by hand. And in Fayette County, another printing error also will require that some ballots be hand-counted.

Can we avoid redistricting ‘chaos’?

WHYY reports that the “pandemic-induced” lag in the release of U.S. Census data this year means lawmakers are beginning their redistricting negotiations “blind.” Still, they arehoping to avoid a delay in next year’s primary election (and also hoping to avoid having the Supreme Court step in and simply impose a map).

Lawmaker to introduce bill to let independents vote in primaries

Sen. Dan Laughlin (Erie County) plans to reintroduce legislation that would allow independents to vote in partisan primary elections. The Erie Times-News reportssimilar legislation was introduced by former Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati in 2019 and overwhelmingly passed the Senate, but never made it into law.

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